Cannon behind the scenes: fighting wild flames

U.S. Air Force firefighters with the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron check water functionality and pressure during a controlled burn at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 15, 2012. Firefighting crews routinely perform exercises like this controlled burn to ensure readiness during an actual disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force firefighters with the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron check water functionality and pressure during a controlled burn at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 15, 2012. Firefighting crews routinely perform exercises like this controlled burn to ensure readiness during an actual disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force firefighters with the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron check each other?s fire-resistant gear during a controlled burn at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 15, 2012. Firefighting crews routinely perform exercises like this controlled burn to ensure readiness during an actual disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force firefighters with the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron check each other's fire-resistant gear during a controlled burn at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 15, 2012. Firefighting crews routinely perform exercises like this controlled burn to ensure readiness during an actual disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

A U.S. Air Force firefighter with the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron secures his fire-resistant gear during a controlled burn at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 15, 2012. Firefighting crews routinely perform exercises like this controlled burn to ensure readiness during an actual disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

A U.S. Air Force firefighter with the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron secures his fire-resistant gear during a controlled burn at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 15, 2012. Firefighting crews routinely perform exercises like this controlled burn to ensure readiness during an actual disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

A U.S. Air Force firefighter with the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron unravels a hose from a nearby fire engine during a controlled burn at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 15, 2012. Firefighting crews routinely perform exercises like this controlled burn to ensure readiness during an actual disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

A U.S. Air Force firefighter with the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron unravels a hose from a nearby fire engine during a controlled burn at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 15, 2012. Firefighting crews routinely perform exercises like this controlled burn to ensure readiness during an actual disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

A U.S. Air Force firefighter with the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron puts out a structural fire during a controlled burn at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 15, 2012. Firefighting crews routinely perform exercises like this controlled burn to ensure readiness during an actual disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

A U.S. Air Force firefighter with the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron puts out a structural fire during a controlled burn at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., March 15, 2012. Firefighting crews routinely perform exercises like this controlled burn to ensure readiness during an actual disaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- *This feature is the eighth in a series of Air Commando highlights at Cannon.

They work together on 24-hour shifts. They train and exercise as a team, run unit drills and share meals with each other. This amount of time spent together helps form the family-like bond they share, which is a key element for firefighters stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., knowing that in a dangerous situation they can completely trust each other with their lives.

"Our main mission revolves around aircraft readiness and safety," said Senior Airman Rodrick Dixon, 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron fire fighter. "Readiness is a huge factor in what we do since we are first responders to situations around base and on the flightline."

The fire department at Cannon was recently named Air Force Special Operations Command Fire Department of the Year for 2011. This award will allow the department to compete at Air Force level for future award possibility.

The firefighters stationed here aren't only trained in putting out flames; they also assist with medical treatment. Emergency Medical Technicians work alongside at the fire department as well. No matter what the incident, crews have seven minutes from the initial call to be on-scene.

"We do a lot of hands-on training in order to meet physical demands of the job," said Dixon. "We might run into a situation that requires us to carry one to several victims out of a burning building. If we haven't practiced proper carries while wearing full gear, we may not be ready to take on such a challenge when the time arises."

The gear adds about 45 pounds to the firefighter wearing it. On top of that extra weight, they must be prepared to cope with increased temperatures, limited visibility and toxic air.

"In the end, there are challenges and shortcomings to every job," said Dixon. "We just train so that we are able to adjust and adapt to meet the needs of the mission."

The 27th Special Operations Wing is home to nine different types of aircraft, which all have unique shutdown methods. The firefighters must be familiarized with all aircraft shutdowns.

Firefighters also respond to all hazardous material situations on their respective installations, such as chemical or radiological.

"No matter what we are responding to, the main thing to keep in mind is life safety," said Staff Sgt. John Hidy, 27 SOCES fire fighter. "There is an indescribable feeling of fulfillment when you help someone in need or save a life!"